Women In Beauty You Should Know: Lisa Li, Founder of The Qi
How Meticulous Attention to Quality, a Wellness-First Approach to Beauty, and a First-Of-Its-Kind Product Helped This Wellness Lifestyle Brand, The Qi, Sell Out Within 4 Month of Launching and Land a Coveted Spot at The Wing’s Perch.
I first met Lisa Li when we both participated in a mastermind a couple of years ago at The Wing. We connected over our passion for beauty through wellness and our immigrant upbringings.
She is originally from Liaoning, a small town about 10 hours from Beijing, where she grew up drinking teas with her grandmother. She reflects, “Those moments were some of the most nourishing and healing times of my life. Holistic wellness for me as a child was much like brunch… it was simply a way of a joyful life.”
After moving to the US and experiencing the opposite approach to wellness in addition to feeling burnt out by the hustle culture in NYC, she set out on a mission to bring ancient Eastern holistic healing wisdom to the US. While traveling to Shangri-La, she came across these one-of-a-kind roses that locals enjoyed as tisanes. It was a beautiful and transformative experience and Lisa was hooked.
In 2018, after finding the right family farms to partner with, she brought these high-quality, food-grade flowers to the US and The Qi was born.
She notes, “We began with rare flowers as they have long been used in history for its holistic healing properties due to their beauty and potency (packed with powerful antioxidants and much more). They are also believed to have the most Qi (life energy) in Traditional Chinese Medicine because plants flower when they reach their peak and climax, flowers are the result of this massive (Qi) energy. When you ingest all that Qi from the flowers you also benefit tremendously.”
I have to say, whenever I’m looking for a healthy pick me up in the afternoon at The Wing, I like to get The Qi Shangri-La Rose, which helps promote glowy skin and hair, gut health, and restful sleep.
Below, we caught up with Lisa about her biggest successes to date — nbd, but within a year she landed Bloomies and The Wing, and was featured on Emily Weiss’ Instagram. Not a bad start, right?
She also shares how she comes up with new product ideas, her #1 marketing strategy (it’s not what you think), and the business book that inspired her to build work relationships based on kindness and generosity.
1. What inspired you to start a beauty company?
We think that beauty and wellness are really just two sides of the same coin. Beauty begins within. If we can take really great care of our insides then our outsides — skin, hair, and more will reflect that radiance. I was born and raised in Asia where I grew up drinking a lot of herbal tonics and teas and much of it was about the enjoyment and pleasure from naturally healing ingredients from plants and nature.
And that led me to create The Qi — a holistic beauty/wellness brand where we believe in the healing power of super flowers that provide a simple, beautiful, and nourishing ritual experience. We offer the highest quality edible flowering herbs for teas, infusions, and beyond. This flower sipping ritual is a beautiful sensory experience that allows the mind and body to rest, connect, and restore.
2. What was the hardest part of launching a beauty business? How did you overcome that challenge?
There are so many challenges to launching a new product and business. For us, sourcing was one of the biggest challenges as we wanted to offer 100% organic — zero pesticide edible flowers. They are soooo hard to find as most flowers are cultivated with tons of pesticides to prevent pests and diseases. It took over a year of time, 100+ herbs/flower tastings, and tens of thousands of miles of traveling later we now work with three small family-owned farms where they’ve been cultivating the same flowers for generations.
3. Was there ever a moment when you almost decided to not go forward with your business? How did you overcome that?
Yes, all the time! But it never lasts more than a few minutes as the thought of going back to a job while being stuck in a cubicle 5 days a week doing data entry somewhere gets me right back up and keep going. I think starting and sustainably growing a business is knowing when to take a break and rest in order recharge so I can keep going otherwise burnouts and calling it quits is inevitable. Having people and things outside of my work is so important to create that balance too. And it also gives me perspective in life that business is a part of my life, but it is not my entire life.
I don’t ever want to be in my 60s and have built a HUGE business but regretting not truly lived my life in terms of spending time with my loved ones, playing with my dog, smelling the roses, cook for others, travel/see the world, and give back to those who are in need. It’s important not to be trapped in other people’s dogma and follow a path of what success means to them. I want to create my own life doing what’s meaningful to me on my own timeline. Those things keep me going with The Qi.
To read the rest of the interview with Lisa of The Qi, click here.